We are on a brief side-trip to Alaska.
Stay tuned as we will be back on the Loop shortly.
So Elske is at St Augustine, David & PJ are in Fort Myers and Jackie is heading to NYC.
After an easy & delightful Uber ride from the marina, I arrived at Jacksonville Amtrak station. There were No lines, no body searches, no metal detectors … no hassles! The noteworthy difference was observing and interacting with polite staffers who had time to talk to the customers. The station was neat and clean with comfortable seating. Snacks did not cost a fortune $$$.
Departure at 5:05 pm 5/17. Boarding was PAINLESS! The seats are HUGE and clean! My seat mate is a delightful young college grad who made her way through college playing basketball.
Amtrak provides Free & FAST wifi; Free Washington Post; Free book excerpts.
Jackie was pleased to discover that SiriusXM works great over the wifi — super for keeping up on the political world & great music too.
Dinner at 8 – my new friend/seat mate and I ate dinner with an Italian immigrant couple. They shared their life’s story of love ️ and coming to America as teenagers. She is 80 and he is 89, married for over 60 years. It was a delightful evening… and the train food was quite good.
Sleeping was challenging but much better than on airplanes. The engineer blew the train whistle nearly constantly all night. It must have been a safety measure. I was sorry that I did not have a blanket or a pillow with me … just did not think about it when packing.
I must say that I was glad when the sun came up.
The on-board staff was professional but also fun and personable. They appeared to truly care about the safety and comfort of their passengers.
This morning cities started to go by in rapid succession Alexandria, Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark and then finally New York’s Penn Station! Arrived at 1030.
It was with delight that I discovered another Looper had arrived in the slip next to Elske … Scott and Brenda LaPointe aboard Conductance!
After 5 years looping, they anticipate “crossing their wake” in New York Harbor within a few weeks. WOW!
Here are a few sunset pictures of this beautiful town.
The word “Matanzas” means slaughter in Spanish. The name was given to the bay and the associated river in 1565 when Don Pedro Menendez and his men, by order of the King of Spain, carried out a gruesome execution upon a shipwrecked crew of French Huguenot captives who refused to convert to Catholicism and to pledge allegiance to the King of Spain. They are buried in the French Huguenot cemetery just outside of the Gates to the city.
French Huguenot Cemetery
The Bridge of Lions was originally constructed in 1927 to connect St. Augustine to Anastasia island to the east. The two imposing lions at the base of the bridge were sculpted by Raffaello Romanelli and funded by Dr. Andrew Anderson, Henry Flagler’s personal physician while in residence in St. Augustine. They were designed to emphasize the city’s connection with Leon, the birthplace of Ponce de Leon, the Spanish discoverer of Florida.
Bridge of Lions
As mentioned previously, the Marina sustained severe damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Work is now underway to fix. It is still a WONDERFUL place to be!
There are too many to visit in one stay. We attended services at two. In our walks around town, we admired the beauty and learned about the history of some of the others.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine was America’s first parish, founded September 8, 1565 (www.thefirstparish.org). It is located on the Plaza de la Constitucion which was built by the Spanish in 1574 as the first public square. It is thought to be the oldest public park in the US. It is directly across the street for the Marina.
Grace United Methodist Church was established before Henry Flagler came to town with their first services held in 1881. However, their planned building was in the way of building his Ponce De Leon hotel. He therefore built a new church for the congregation out of poured concrete, imported terracotta decorations and red brick accents of the Spanish Renaissance Revival style. Mr. Flagler imposed a restriction on this church and the Ancient City Baptist Church that there was to be no bells in the church towers. This was because he did not want the bells of his church built in 1889, Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church, to be overshadowed. Mr. Flagler and family members are buried at the Presbyterian church which was modeled after St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice Italy.
Pre-dating all the existing churches, is the Mission of Nombre De Dios and the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. The experience of visiting was powerful and inspiring. www.missionandshrine.org The Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed on September 8, 1564 and is considered the Founder of St. Augustine. On this day was celebrated the first parish Mass at a permanent settlement in the continental United States by a secular priest Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales. The Mass was the feast of the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary which is always celebrated on September 8. After this first Mass, the Spaniards and the local natives of the Timucua nation shared a meal of thanksgiving (the first Thanksgiving?). There is an active archeological dig site on the property also.